The success of horror in film has led to it’s ideas and conventions spilling over onto another medium, television. Horror films have influenced characters, settings and storylines on television for years. I take a look back at what I think have been ten of the best horror television shows.
After its original broadcast, the BBC refused to show Ghost Watch again due to the mass amounts of controversy and complaints the show received. Using celebrities such as Michael Parkinson, Sarah Greene and Craig Charles, direct address and phone in options, Ghostwatch managed to convince its viewers that what they were seeing in the haunted house and in the studio was real.
9. Dead Set
Dead Set bought zombie apocalypses close to home as the walking dead invaded the UK’s Big Brother House. Zombie’s attacked real former Big Brother housemates. Charlie Brooker received a Bafta nominee for this innovative take on zombies. The highlight of the series surely has to be Davina McCall as a zombie.
8. True Blood
Over a decade after Buffy The Vampire Slayer and during the time of the Twilight success, True Blood comes along turning the vampire subgenre on its head. In the first episode, vampires are shown on television arguing for equal rights. From this moment, it was obvious that this wasn’t going to be an ordinary horror show. Throughout the shows run, it brings several other horror elements in such as Sookie’s supernatural ability to read minds and the introduction of werewolves into the show. Full of modern characters, True Blood gives the genre a complete re-vamping.
7. Dark Shadows
Before the Tim Burton film, came the original 1966 television series. Dark Shadows was a gothic soap opera focusing on the Collins family. Interestingly, Johnny Depp’s lead role in the film, Barnabus Collins, was not originally in the show. Barnabus Collins bought in larger audiences when he entered the show a year into its run. Dark Shadows is still considered as one of the most popular cult shows.
6. The League Of Gentlemen
As much as I loved Reece Shearsmith’s and Steve Pemberton’s Psychoville, it’s predecessor The League Of Gentlemen simply cannot be reckoned with. Along with Shearsmith and Pemberton, Mark Gatiss and Jeremy Dyson created horrific yet hilarious characters such as Papa Lazarou and Edward and Tubbs. The show took a new and twisted approach to BBC comedy. A film was made, The League Of Gentlemen’s Apocolypse but this was nowhere near as well received as the series.
5. Tales From The Crypt
Based on comics, Tales From The Crypt is an anthology series, one of the most successful ways of telling horrific tales. Each week, Tales Of The Crypt brought its viewers a different scary tale. The opening of the show is probably the most memorable thing about it. The show’s host, Crypt Keeper, introduces each week’s creepy and enticing episode.
4. The Munsters
The average family? Not quite. The Munsters bought a new dynamic to the usual family sitcom, combining horror and comedy. The daughter of the family, Marilyn, is always trying to find a boyfriend, but can she find one that can accept her monstrous family? With just 2 series, the show did not fail to make an impact on the genre with memorable characters including Herman Munster and the audience watched as chaos ensued through Grandpa’s potions. As the oldest show on the list, it ran alongside The Addams Family but in my opinion The Munsters is much more superior.
3. The Walking Dead
Loved Dawn Of The Dead but wanted more of it? Cue The Walking Dead. When Officer Rick Grimes is shot, he awakens to a new world, a world inhabited by zombies. Loved by fans and critics alike, The Walking Dead brings the zombie subgenre back to life focusing on a group of survivors in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. With the right amount of blood and gore, The Walking Dead goes back to the original slow moving zombie convention which the 2004 remake of Dawn Of The Dead stupidly dismissed. The Walking Dead manages to correctly balance the melodramatic elements, such as the relationships between the survivors, and the horror conventions.
2. American Horror Story
The most recent addition to the list, American Horror Story uses every horror convention it possibly can to enhance the terror. From the creators of Glee, Ryan Murphy and Brad Fulchuck make it their mission to give you a scare each week. Noted as an anthology series, the first season centered around a haunted house whilst the second series focuses on a mental asylum. With a great cast in both series, including Jessica Lange, the show has received numerous accolades.
1. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
As this list has proven, there have been many great contributions to the portrayal of horror on television. However, it seemed inevitable that Buffy The Vampire Slayer would be top of the list. Every week, Buffy bought its fans new fights, new apocalypses and new monsters, even dying a few times in the process. Buffy faced off with almost every kind of monster from the horror genre there is; vampires, demons, giant insects, hyena infected teenagers, zombies, ghosts, mummies, Gods, witches, werewolves and even Dracula himself! The show even created a horror musical episode. The show pushed the genre boundaries to the extreme. In every generation a slayer is born…no one cared, we just wanted Buffy!
Narrowing great horror television series down to ten did not prove easy. There are many other series that have made great contributions to the horror genre such as American Gothic, Angel, Supernatural, Twin Peaks and The X Files to just to name a few!